Month: February 2018

Flute Pitch Tendencies

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Sunday.

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I once attended a wonderful presentation by John Barcellona at an NFA convention regarding pitch tendencies on the flute that completely changed the way I approached tuning to other instruments. The flute is constructed in a way that leads certain notes to naturally fall sharp and others that tend to lean flat. These pitches differ from the tendencies of other instruments, particularly wind instruments such as the oboe and clarinet. It is important to know exactly which way each note on the flute leans so that you may anticipate tuning issues before they arise. There are a host of very good resources online to help you understand the natural tendencies of the flute and the modifications that can be made to bring certain pitches back to planet Earth. Today’s blog features a handful of these resources for you review and distribute to your students. These have helped me immensely in my own career and I hope they will do the same for you.

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Basic Guidelines

  • Low notes will generally be flat. High notes are typically sharp. Knowing this ahead of time will help you tune with other instruments.

  • Open notes (such as middle and high C’s and C#’s) are generally sharp. Bring these notes down by placing fingers from the right hand down on the keys one by one until the note is in tune.

  • Check your cork. Check your cork periodically by placing the end of your cleaning rod in your headjoint, lining up the line in the rod with the center of the tone hole. Make any adjustments by unscrewing the crown. Turn the headjoint cap to the right to flatten or to the left to sharpen.

  • Remember to play with good posture and a supported air stream. If you are trying to tune slumped over with a weak air stream, your sound will likely be flat. Sit up and project.

  • Practice with a tuner. Check in from time to time on sustained notes. Are you flat or sharp? What is your natural tendencies? Adjust based on these readings.

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Online Intonation Reference

1.  Your Guide to Woodwind Intonation http://woodwindintonation.weebly.com/flute.html

This is a great reference page not only for the practical tips on improving overall intonation (embouchure placement, cork alignment, tuning to harmonics, how to adjust), but the section covering alternate fingerings is also a great resource to have on hand during orchestral rehearsals or any other group rehearsals where you will be working with different instruments. Print this out and keep it in your music folder. These fingerings will come in handy during exposed sections in the music or during measures of sustained pitches where having proper intonation with other instruments is vital to the harmonic structure of the piece.

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2.  Century High Bands Flute Intonation Resources  http://centuryhighbands.com/images/uploads/Flute_Intonation_(1).pdf

I like this PDF due to its very practical suggestions for tuning problem notes (“bad notes”). I do, however, believe that some of the tuning suggestions are unfortunately out of date. Cate Hummel’s article on this resource offers a better set of guidelines for tuning notes that are still problematic on the flute (see https://drcatesflutetips.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/tuning-tendencies-of-the-flute/ ). The chromatic scale on page 1 is a straight-forward approach to remembering the tendencies of notoriously out of tune notes and will be very helpful for beginning or intermediate students as they become familiar with fingerings in the higher ranges. I also really enjoy the last page, which is essentially a worksheet for students to map out the intonation tendencies of their own instrument. I may be borrowing this page as an exercise for my own students

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3.  Jen Cluff’s Flute Tuning “How To”  http://www.jennifercluff.com/begtune.htm

This resource is great as an FAQs for flute tuning. Jen explains just how temperature affects the flute, how to tune in ensembles, using a tuning CD, and addresses basic tuning issues we all encounter at one time or another. I really like her simple, yet effective suggestions for common flute tuning issues.

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4.  Blank Pitch Tendencies 2.2  https://www.beavercreek.k12.oh.us/cms/lib/OH01000456/Centricity/Domain/110/PT-Flute.pdf

I am not sure which book this came from (if you know, please comment below!), but this is another good resource for the visual learner who likes to use colors and figures to understand new concepts. I also like the short notes on the gizmo key and use of harmonic fingerings. Like the PDF above, this also contain a handy worksheet for students to test their own pitch tendencies (although I would have liked to see more space to write possible solutions..). Finally, the chart on the last page features a good list detailing why certain pitches lean flat and why other may lean sharp.

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Do you have an intonation reference chart that you like to use? Which one of the above resources has been the most helpful for you or for your students? Do you have other online intonation references that you like to consult or refer you students to? Please comment below!

 

Happy Fluting!

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Schedule C

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday.

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This week in the mail, my husband and I received most of our W2s, 1099s, 1098s, and many of the other tax forms needed to get started on our 2017 tax return. As a private flute studio practitioner, however, I will still need to prepare my Schedule C form (to accompany the standard 1040 form). Tax time can be stressful for independent musicians and private teachers. Receipts, invoices, mileage calculations, and conference travel records can often make your head spin during this time of year, leading many of us to spend big bucks on professional CPAs. Today’s blog is devoted to helpful tips for private flute teachers as we all prepare our Schedule C forms. I am obviously not a tax consultant – just a girl with experience filling out these tedious forms. If you have specific questions regarding this or any other form from the IRS, please consult a licensed CPA.

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What is Schedule C?

Schedule C is a tax form from the IRS to report profit or loss from a business (this includes privately owned business such as studio practices). The type of businesses that fall under Schedule C are those that you are involved in on a continual and regular basis. If you only periodically teach masterclasses or host your own summer flute camp, those expenses would be considered a “hobby” and not subject to Schedule C, but you will still need to report those earnings on Form 1040, line 21.

In a nutshell, Schedule C is how to report your business earnings, minus expenses, and how much in taxes you must pay the government based on those earnings. The “minus expenses” is often the trickiest part, but some of the tips below will help you keep better records throughout the year to streamline the process during tax time. If your business expenses were less than $5000, you may be able to file the Schedule C-EX instead of Schedule C (which is exactly what it sounds like – an easier version of Schedule C).

In addition to Schedule C, you will also need to fill out the Schedule SE, or the Self-Employment Tax form. This form is used to pay taxes for social security and Medicare. If your net profit from your Schedule C is $400 or less, you may not need to pay this tax (but there are other considerations on this form – check it out to make sure you do not owe).

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Where can I find Schedule C, Schedule C-EZ, and Schedule SE?

Irs.gov of course! Or on the following links:

Schedule C – https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf

Schedule C-EX – https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sce.pdf

Schedule SE – https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sse.pdf

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Helpful Ways to Prepare for Schedule C

Save your receipts as they come in. There are several easy ways to do this in the digital age that do not require digging through a shoebox full of receipts. Take a picture of any receipt that would be considered a “business expense” and email it to yourself. From here, you may save the receipt in a convenient email folder (“Studio Expenses” or something along those lines) or save it to your desktop under a local file. You may also scan receipts to be placed in the same files throughout the year. If you order music through Flute World or Amazon, simply place your order confirmations in this box for tax time. When it is time to fill out your Schedule C, all of your records will be in one place, helping you to easily total your expenses in each category.

Save invoices from each student. I know a lot of teachers that do not use paper invoices. Come tax time, they find themselves staring at a yearly calendar trying to remember how many lessons each student had each month, who skipped lessons, who went on vacation when, and so on. This is the easiest way to earn yourself an audit. To save yourself the stress, and to help you keep accurate records of your studio income, email PDF copies of monthly bills directly to students and/or parents at the close of the month. Keep these invoices saved locally in your business expenses folder on your desktop or in your email business folder. At the end of the year, simply total the monthly invoices for each student to arrive at your total studio income for the year. Save these records somewhere convenient in case of an audit.

Set up a separate bank account for your studio income and expenses. This is by far the easiest way to keep track of how much you’ve made and how much you have spent. Sign up for online banking to receive your statements electronically each month and file them in your designated business folder. Online banking can also help you compile yearly reports and break up your expenses into categories that correspond to those in Part II of Schedule C.

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Use a separate credit or debit card for business purposes. Any time you purchase music, accessories, music stands, office equipment, conference registrations, or any other items that relate to your studio business, use a designated card that is tied to your business account. This will prevent you from having to dig around in your personal account for transactions that could, maybe, possibly be related to your studio.

If you have a large studio business or are currently drowning in possible business expenses but are not sure which expenses qualify, consider hiring a CPA. They are the professionals, after all. They will most likely take you through the Expenses portion of Schedule C, so start taking some notes on the items you know you purchased during the calendar year that fit into these categories.

Understand what is considered a “business expenses” according to Schedule C. Did you have any expenses for your studio this year that fit under the following categories? List them on your Schedule C.

Advertising

Car and Truck Expenses

Commissions and Fees

Contract Labor

Depletion

Deprecation

Employee Benefit Programs

Insurance (including instrumental insurance paid by yourself)

Interest (Mortgage or Other)

Legal and Professional Services

Office Expenses

Pension and Profit-Sharing Plans

Rent or Leases on Vehicles, Machinery, or Equipment

Repairs and Maintenance

Supplies

Taxes and Licenses

Travel, Meals, and Entertainment

Utilities

Wages

Other Expenses

Did you drive anywhere for studio recitals, masterclasses, or any other studio field trips? Make sure to report this under the “travel” category. It is very easy to forget about this one. The Federal Standard Mileage Rate for 2017 is 53.5 cents per mile.

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Do you have to file a Schedule C this year? Have you filed out one in the past? What tips do you have to streamline your studio accounting? Please comment below!

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Happy fluting (and happy tax prep)!